NOMAD (Exomars 2016)

Products > Space > Spectrometers > NOMAD (Exomars 2016) >

Investigating the Martian atmosphere


(Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery), is a 3-channel spectrometer suite to conduct a spectroscopic survey of Mars’ atmosphere in the UV, visible and IR spectral ranges, in search for traces of life.

NOMAD is a spectrometer suite that can measure the spectrum of sunlight across a wide range of wavelengths. This broad coverage of the instrument enables the detection of the components of the Martian atmosphere, even in low concentrations. In addition to identifying the constituents of the Martian atmosphere, NOMAD will also map their locations.

The measurements will be carried out in solar occultation, i.e. the instrument points toward the Sun when the Orbiter moves at the dark side of Mars, as well as in nadir mode, i.e. looking directly at the sunlight reflected from the surface and atmosphere of Mars. The inclination of the Orbiter has been chosen to optimise the science that can be done with the instrument suite.


NOMAD covers the infrared (2.2-4.3 µm) and the ultraviolet-visible (0.2-0.65 µm) spectral regions, using the following three channels:
the solar occultation only channel (SO) operating in the infrared wavelength domain,
     * the second infrared channel capable of doing nadir, but also solar occultation and limb observations (LNO),
     * and the ultraviolet/visible channel (UVIS) that can work in all observation mode

NOMAD offers an integrated instrument combination of a flight-proven concept (SO/LNO are based on SOIR on Venus Express), and innovations based on existing and proven instrumentation, that will provide mapping and vertical profile information at high spatio-temporal resolution.



NOMAD is part of theExoMars2016, a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). The first mission of the ExoMars programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter (abbreviated as TGO) plus an Entry, Descent and landing demonstrator Module, known as Schiaparelli(abbreviated as EDM).
(Note: The ExoMars programme consists of 2 mission to be launched resp. in 2016 and 2018. The 2016 mission is a demonstration + scientific mission, whereas the 2018 mission will deliver the rover to Mars

The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA's contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.

The Trace Gas Orbiter will accommodate scientific instruments for the detection of trace gases with an improved accuracy of three orders of magnitude compared to previous measurements from orbit and ground-based measurements. It will also provide new data for the study of the temporal and spatial evolution of trace gases in the Martian atmosphere, and for the location of their source regions.
The scientific payload operations of the Orbiter will start in 2017 and are planned to last for a minimum of one Martian year (687 Earth days).


Schiaparelli - an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module - is a technology demonstration vehicle carried by the ExoMars TGO to demonstrate the capability of European industry to perform a controlled landing on the surface of Mars.


ExoMars 2016 Mission Phases Overview

14-25 March 2016

Launch Period

16 October 2016

Schiaparelli – Trace Gas Orbiter separation

19 October 2016

Trace Gas Orbiter insertion into Mars orbit

19 October 2016

Schiaparelli enters Martian atmosphere and lands on the target site

19-23 October 2016

Schiaparelli science operations

December 2016

Trace Gas Orbiter changes inclination to science orbit (74°)

Mar 2017 – Mar 2018

Aerobraking phase (TGO lowers its altitude to 400 km orbit)

March 2018

Trace Gas Orbiter science operations begin.

December 2022

End of Trace Gas Orbiter mission


(update 07/12/2016)



Initiated by ESA and Belgium's Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO).

NOMAD was built by an international consortium led by IASB-BIRA as Principle Investigator and OIP Sensor Systems as Industrial Prime. Lambda-X was subcontractor.
Project is funded by ESA/Prodex.  

OIP was responsible for the optical design and the Assembly, Integration and Verification (AIV) of the payload (Phase B/C/D).



ExoMars2016 will be launched on a Proton rocket (by International Launch Service ILS) and will fly to Mars in a composite configuration. By taking advantage of the positioning of Earth and Mars the cruise phase can be limited to about 7 months, with the pair arriving at Mars in October 2016.

Mission :


Destination :


Launch Site :

Baikonur Cosmodrome, Baikonur, Kazakhstan

Launch Period :

March 14th, 2016 at 10h31 (Belgian time)

Launcher :

Proton Rocket

Spacecraft :

Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)

Main event :

Investigation of the Martian Atmosphere

Mission Status :

Successfully launched


(update 20/03/2016)



NOMAD Proto-Flight Model (PFM) was delivered to Thales Alenia Space (TAS), Cannes, France in May 2015. The integration on the TGO S/C was realized by NOMAD team in June 2015. After several environmental tests at S/C level, the TGO was shipped to the launch site end of 2015.

The TGO and in particular NOMAD survived the transport from Cannes to Baikonur Cosmodrome. This was demonstrated during Functional Checks and Alignment checks (January 2016). NOMAD is declared ready for flight by ESA/TAS.

Final electrical checks were OK (February 2016) and covers were removed on March 1st, prior to fairing encapsulation.
Fairing encapsulation was performed according to schedule, as well as launch vehicle build-up. The roll-out to the launch pad took place on March 11th.
The launch was flawlessly conducted on March 14th. ExoMars, with NOMAD and DECA, arrived safely near Mars.
The separation of the lander from TGO was conducted smoothly as planned on October 16th. 3 days later TGO entered its intended Mars Orbit, bringing the science instrument in Mars Capture Orbit path, ready for aerobraking. The Schiaparelli lander had a less fortunate encounter with Mars. After a 7 month journey, were all events happened according to plan, the last 40 seconds theory and practice did not match. this resulted in a landing 'anomaly' causing the loss of the lander and its science package with DECA onboard ...

TGO's science payloads were tested in November 2016 are started to produce first science. NOMAD revealed some nice absorption spectra highlighting water vapour, carbon monoxide (SO/LNO) and solar features (UVIS). Hopefully many more exciting science is to come. 




NOMAD was built by an international consortium led by IASB-BIRA as Principle Investigator and OIP Sensor Systems as Industrial Prime. Lambda-X was subcontractor.

Principal Investigator

Ann Carine Vandaele, Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Belgium

Co-Principal Investigator

José Lopez Moreno, Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain

Co-Principal Investigator

Giancarlo Bellucci, Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy

Co-Principal Investigator

Manish Patel, The Open University, United Kingdom

Industrial Prime

Lieve De Vos, OIP Sensor Systems, Belgium

ESA ExoMars Project

Albert Haldemann, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

ESA ExoMars Project

Duncan Goulty, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

ESA ExoMars Project

Michael Kasper, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands





ESA exomars site (link)  

BIRA NOMAD site (link)

Fiche (download)

Official picture (to be added)  df